Category Archives: Exercise

Back Pain Update

For those of you who care, and for those of you who are going through the same thing, I thought I should update everyone on my back pain situation.

First of all, I have bad genetics when it comes to my spine. It seems that everyone in my family has some sort of Degenerative Disc Disease. I thought that I was preventing damage to my back by being active and athletic, but it seems that my attempts to prevent back pain may have advanced it faster than anyone else in my family. (This is speculation, since I have not had any type of annual x-rays of my spine; however, it explains a lot, as you shall see).

I have had issues with slipped discs in the past but the worst days I had I just missed a day or two of work or school. Two years ago I had a “flair up” of Sciatica (your disc is out of place and putting pressure on your sciatic nerve, causing pain, numbness, or tingling in the back of your leg and/or buttock). I had x-rays done but no one really told me what the results of the x-rays were. It got better on its own, and doing some Googling I learned a few exercises to do to help out my back. I was fine for 2 years.

Then, April 2014 I did a super intense Cycling class. I was so proud of myself. I had whipped my own butt in class so bad, that I was feeling my sciatic swelling up again. Whoops, I thought. Better ice it down and relax for a couple days.  Except I know that the best way to fix it is to work your abs and back to strengthen your core and push your disc back into place where it isn’t pushing on anything it ins’t supposed to. So I continued to work out, lifting weights that were heavy but being careful not to throw my body around like I see some people do at the gym, that makes my body hurt just watching them, sure that they are going to have a tendon shoot out of their arm and across the gym at any second…too graphic? Sorry. Anyway, I was about to go on vacation to Yellowstone National Park, so I wanted to be as healthy as possible. I was convinced that if I just strengthened everything before I went that my back would be better before we left.

What I should have done was very different. I should have let my back rest. Since you use your back for everything, using it extra while it’s swollen makes things worse. Not better. So while I thought I was doing good for myself, I was preventing it from healing.

I hate going to the doctor. Half the time they tell you what you already know. Other times you get better right after you saw them, and there wasn’t a point to going in the first place. So I avoided going to the doctor until we were 2 weeks away from our vacation. I realized I had to do something, but I didn’t just want a prescription for pain meds like I have gotten in the past – they didn’t help anything. So I went to a chiropractor instead. I had never been before so I thought I would give it a try. I felt great for the first few minutes after my sessions, but then everything felt like it was compressing, and started to hurt again.

I ran out of time before we went on vacation, but I was NOT about to cancel. My back wasn’t THAT bad, I kept telling myself.  Every day on the trip my back got worse and worse. In order to get out of the car, I would open the door, put out my legs, grab the roof of the car, and lift/swing my body out, and then slowly stand up. Each time the process took longer and longer. Until about Day 5 when I couldn’t stand it anymore. While watching wild wolves and talking to fellow photographers, I couldn’t enjoy what I was doing because I was in so much pain. I was practically cross-eyed with pain. I told Hubby we had to go to the doctor’s office in the park and we headed north toward the Mammoth Clinic. I even tried to get out of the car on our way there, to get some pictures of black bears on the side of the road, but I couldn’t handle it. The doctor wrote me a couple prescriptions for muscle relaxers and pain meds, but they didn’t do anything except knock me unconscious for the next 3 days. Our flight home was terribly painful, and stopping at every red light on the drive home was torture. Lovely, huh?

After a few more days of pain meds and rest with icing my back in between, I ended up going to the doctor and having some x-rays done again. While I was there, the doctor looked at my old file from 2 years before when I had x-rays done the first time. She showed me that I had scoliosis. Now, I know this is not an uncommon thing, but I was never told I had scoliosis. She also told me that I had severe arthritis which was causing constriction on my spinal cord. Questions running through my mind at this time: Has my back been crooked the whole time? Is it going to get worse? Am I ever going to be pain free again? Do I need surgery?! Needless to say, I freaked out a bit.

She wrote me another prescription for pain meds that didn’t do anything, and told me to see a specialist. I waited a couple weeks to see if my back would just get better on its own, and it did a little but not much.  He took more x-rays, and had some good news and some bad news. Good news was, my “scoliosis” was nothing to worry about. More than likely it was just caused by my pain – I couldn’t lie straight down on the x-ray table because I was in pain, so that was as straight as I could make my back without crying. Awesome!  Except, his bad news scared me even worse. He showed me my x-ray and said that I have practically no disc left between three of my lower vertebrae. I don’t have a swollen, bulging disc like I thought, I have multiple compressed discs which are pushing on my sciatic. Now, I have never had good luck with doctors and their bedside manner. But this guy seemed to take the cake. He asked me what I do for a living, so instead of telling him my job title because that doesn’t really tell him anything, I started to explain what my job was. “Every day is different. Some days I’m in front of a computer, some days I’m on my feet walking…” He interrupted me to ask his question again, as if I didn’t understand. “I’m an environmental scientist.” So then he asked what that meant. That’s why I started telling you the way I did, jerk! I have gotten that question enough that I know how to answer it! Anyway, so I told him that I carry heavy ladders some days and his response was, “oh, you can’t do that.” I’m sorry, are you telling me that I need to change careers?! Cuz, that’s kind of a big deal… But he didn’t write me any letters to my boss, excusing me from work, so I guess that’s not what he meant. He asked me what I have done to try to let this heal on my own, and when I told him I exercise, he practically laughed when he said, “what kind of exercises? You’re not doing Deadlifts, are you?!” I couldn’t believe it.  I couldn’t even imagine doing deadlifts without my back hurting and he’s being condescending?

I asked for some different options because going to doctors in the past, they don’t really seem to think of “options” just one thing for you to do. I asked about cortisone injections or anything else that might help, and it was like a light went on in his head when he thought of a solution – nerve pain meds. Not NSAIDS, but actual nerve pain meds – Lyrica. I couldn’t believe that this hadn’t been brought up as an option before. My sciatic nerve was hurting, so why didn’t they try this FIRST?!

Of course like any medicine that has a commercial, the list of side effects is long and scary. But when you are in pain it’s worth a try. I used it as prescribed for a month and did exercises and physical therapy between (not tough exercises, I learned my lesson). I went back for my recheck and the doctor told me that I should use the Lyrica if I need to, and if I need more after the prescription runs out I can either get more, or they can “explore other options” (i.e. injections or surgery). So after my recheck I decided to reduce my doses to see what my back would do, and I haven’t had a single dose for a week. My back feels amazing! The Lyrica took the pain away enough for me to exercise and gain the strength back that I needed to keep my discs where they need to be. I had a couple side effects (weight gain, tired easily, sometimes I felt numb, and didn’t seem to think clearly all the time), but nothing I couldn’t stand and nothing that was permanent (i have already lost the weight and I feel much more alert).

The only thing I still can’t do is run, and I really miss running. I still have degenerating discs, and I will probably need surgery in the future, but hopefully I can hold out for a long, long time. Technology is only getting better, and surgical procedures take a lot of technology.

So, if you are having similar issues here are some things to remember:

1. Doctors are busy. You are probably going to have to do some research on your own, and go prepared with questions and suggestions, because they have a million things going through their heads and probably won’t think of your best solution.

2. Use your insurance. I am always afraid of what things are going to cost, going to the doctor. But you have to remember it’s your health and it’s important. You pay for insurance for a reason, so take advantage of it when you need to.

3. Take it easy, but not too easy. Bed rest is good for your back, but only for a day or 2. After that, your back will start to seize up and will take much, much longer to heal if you don’t move around a little bit.

4. Ice is better than heat. Heat is great for taking out certain aches and pains, but if you use it too much it will increase inflammation and make the pain worse. When in pain, ice it first.

5. Finally, I am not a doctor. I am writing this basically to remember what happened, explain everything to the few people who have asked what happened, and give some advice if you are having a similar problem. But I am not a doctor – this is just a stupid travel blog, so if you take this advice to a T and it doesn’t work for you, don’t blame me, I was just trying to help! 🙂 When I was trying to research sciatica before I went to the doctor, I never found anything even similar to this post, so I’m hoping that I can help people in the future who are trying to learn why they are in so much pain, and what they can do about it.

So cheers to good health!

Yellowstone Part 3 – Not Actually In Yellowstone

I ended Part 1 when we were leaving Yellowstone and heading down to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Part 2 was a typical little rant explaining how NOT to be a jerk while you are Site-seeing. Part 3 was the actual hiking of the vacation, in Grand Tetons National Park.

Seeing as how much of Yellowstone tries very hard to kill you by either wildlife attack or geothermal flesh melting, the safest hikes are MILES AWAY in the Grand Tetons. This is probably why you get access to both parks when you pay your $25 admission.  We started off by finding famous places for famous photos. I wanted to re-create the infamous Ansel Adams photo of the Grand Tetons with the Snake River flowing majephtically below, but we couldn’t find THE SPOT.

You know...THIS ONE
You know…THIS ONE

Instead, we found an awesome pull off that was covered up in tourists all taking pictures of the mountains. It was cold and windy, but I couldn’t just stay in the car! Then I wanted to find the famous barn that you see EVERYWHERE.

and you know...THIS ONE
and you know…THIS ONE

I googled it because I didn’t even know what it was called, and I found GPS coordinates for its location. I put those bad boys into our car GPS, and sure enough, it took us right to the beautiful old Mormon barns, complete with an information placard explaining about them. There were hardly any people there, so I waited somewhat patiently (ok, not patiently at all, but mainly because they were rude and walking ALL OVER THE AREA while I was trying to take pictures. Hubby kept telling me they have the same right to be there as me, and they will leave soon so I will be able to get my photos. yeah yeah….It was cold and about to rain! I needed them OUT OF MY SHOT!) There were little squirrels EVERYWHERE and we even saw a coyote that was hanging around, I’m assuming trying to hunt them as soon as the annoying humans got out of his way.

After we took these pictures we headed deeper into the park to do some true hiking. We were going to head to Jenny Lake, via the Taggart Lake trailhead. I really wanted to head to Lupine Meadows, because I knew the lupine would be blooming and I thought it would be a great photo-op. Unfortunately, we decided to head to Taggart Lake first and see how my back was taking the hike. If I was feeling good we would continue up to Lupine Meadows. This is where we made the wrong choice. Half of the 1 1/2 long trail was covered in snow. I’m not talking about a beautiful dusting of snow. I mean FEET OF SNOW. FOR 1/2 A MILE. IN ONE DIRECTION.

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It was pretty, but deceptive
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Still not there, and still walking through snow. This was more of a slush.
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Hubby wondering how cold his feet can get before they simply fall off.

I thought “well, I’ve come this far. I have to finish this trail.” Bad idea. I have no experience traveling through deep snow. I have no equipment for traveling in deep snow. Hubby had holes in his hiking boots so his feet were soaked and frozen by the time we got to our destination. I had slipped and slid on snow that had been walked on so much it was turning to slick ice instead of crunchy snow. I fell through thin spots. Just to let you know, this is a horrible idea if you are having back pain. You use every muscle in your back with pretty much every step you take. So if you jerk to one side, all of your sore muscles get jerked too. Needless to say, we didn’t make it to Lupine Meadows. We did, however, make it to Taggart Lake. And it was breathtaking. Then we had the dreadful realization: we had to walk through all of that again.

I tried to break up the slip-n-slide journey by taking photos of stuff along the way. Where the snow was starting to melt, you could see little tunnels built by rodents in the snow. Now, I always knew that they did this, which is why there are so many silly pictures of foxes doing this:

fox hunting

But what I didn’t know is that it appears that rodents actually move soil in to create the tunnels – I thought they just tunneled through the snow itself, but clearly not, based on these pictures!

IMG_3352 IMG_3353

So while I was ready for this icy hike to be over, I was learning too, which is always fun! Once we finally got back through the snow and came upon the trail split that led to Lupine Meadows, I decided I couldn’t keep going up the mountain, because if I did I would have to be carried down the mountain on a stretcher because of my back. Seeing as how I didn’t want to become a hiking statistic, we headed back down the mountain to the car. I took a few more pictures to break up the hike, and when we got to the car, Hubby instantly took off his boots and socks and cranked up the heater on his poor frozen toe-sicles. Then he got on his phone and ordered a new pair of boots online. Sometimes you really have to love technology.

After our hike we went back to the cabin to take a nap a recuperate before bar-hopping in town. We enjoyed a little bit of night life, then we headed out to the mountain pull-off and I gave my star photography another shot (or two, or two hundred! ha). Since I was so excited about my next photography section, I was super proud of myself for being dressed warmly and prepared for a long time out in the wind. I even bragged to Hubby about how prepared I was. Then I realized that I forgot something. Something pretty darn important.

Part of my tripod.

See, there is this “speed clip” thing that you screw into the bottom if your camera, so you can just clip the camera in and out of the tripod quickly and easily. I took this off of my camera so that I could use my padded hand strap (which uses the same hole that the tripod speed clip uses). Instead of putting the clip back onto the tripod like a good girl, I put it on the table to “deal with later.”

That is always a horrible idea. At least for me. That is how things get misplaced and opportunities can potentially be lost! Luckily though, I’m a resourceful Texas Girl, so I did the next best thing. I made a small pile of gravel and used that as a sort of sand bag for my camera. It worked pretty darn well too, if I do say so myself!

Not only did I get to see some of the most beautiful scenery in the United States during a time that most people don’t get to see it, but while I was sitting on the ground freezing my tush off, I had the chance to hear coyotes singing in the river below, with no other sound and no other person around for miles. It was ah.maz.ing.

(yes, Hubby was there. He was “waiting” in the car. And when I say waiting, I mean unconscious. And snoring. And warm).

This made for a very late night (for me, since Hubby was “waiting”) but it was worth every second. I wished over and over that I had brought my speed clip, but I chalk it all up to the fact that I’m new to this whole photography thing, so I’m allowed to screw up once in a while.

Again, I put most of the pictures into a Gallery below. Enjoy, and send me some feedback! Do you prefer the photos mixed into the story or in the gallery at the bottom so you can enjoy them all together?

Luxury Backpacking

As soon as I found out that I was getting Good Friday off of work, I called Hubby and said “WE HAVE TO GO CAMPING!” I hadn’t gone camping since Grad School, with the exception of one Canoe Camping trip that we did with a couple friends 2 YEARS AGO.  I had been feeling the itch to go camping for a while, and that was the perfect weekend to do it. Living in Texas, just about anywhere you want to get is a day’s drive to get there, so you want more than just one night away to appreciate the time you spent outdoors, not just in your car getting there.  The most beautiful areas of Texas are west of my current location, and the closest pretty place is about 3 hours away. But of course, since I didn’t know I was getting Good Friday off until most people already had their Easter plans, most of the pretty places we wanted to go were all booked up.

Enter – Inks Lake State Park. This is a tiny state park on a tiny lake which is part of the Colorado River chain of lakes in the hill country.  It is south of Lake Buchanan, which is a much larger lake, but they had campsites available for the Easter weekend so I booked it as soon as possible. The drive to Inks Lake was beautiful.  My favorite landscape type – rocks, hills, cactus, and huge trees, surrounded us. And to top it all off, we were having an amazing wildflower season, so the entire drive was breath-taking.

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Puddle in the rock
Puddle in the rock
Adorable little cactus
Adorable little cactus
China berry blooms
China berry blooms
Teeny Tiny succulents
Teeny Tiny succulents
Buckeye Selena King
Buckeye Selena King
Claret Cup Cactus
Claret Cup Cactus
Hubby at the top
Hubby at the top
Dry creek bed
Dry creek bed
Prickly pear skeleton
Prickly pear skeleton
Indian Paintbrush and rocks
Indian Paintbrush and rocks
Butterfly on Indian Blanket
Butterfly on Indian Blanket
Bluebonnets on the trail
Bluebonnets on the trail
Giant Spiderwort
Giant Spiderwort

The reason I say we were “luxury backpacking” is because the trail from the car was only 1.5 miles.  The backpacking we were used to was 12-16 mile long hikes in the mountains. Very different.  Because of the short distance we were going to be traveling we took a few items that we wouldn’t have carried on a 16 mile hike in the Chisos Mountains. Such as: eggs, wine, cookies, my giant camera with giant lens and a tripod. Things such as these were typically left at home on previous trips to save on weight. And on longer hikes where we didn’t have refrigeration, we would have to bring all of our food with us and it usually consisted of some sort of noodles and a packet of tuna or something. Since this was LUXURY backpacking, we only brought one day’s worth of food to camp at a time (and it was really awesome food at that!) That way we could keep all the extra food in the car in the big cooler, nice and cold, and go get it the next day when we had nice light-weight empty packs to carry.

Day 1: We got to the park at about noon and headed into our camp site. Then we had the rest of the afternoon to explore the trails and hills around us. I was constantly taking pictures and Hubby was walking around exploring and waiting patiently for me to finish whatever I was trying to take pictures of. When we got back to camp we started making dinner – home-made beef stew and biscuits.

While Hubby cooked dinner, I was practicing my night-time photography techniques. It didn't go well.
While Hubby cooked dinner, I was practicing my night-time photography techniques. It didn’t go well.

This is not quick or easy over one small burner, but as I write this it is literally making my stomach growl, thinking of what a great meal it made.  The stew cooked pretty slowly since it was fresh, raw potatoes, carrots, and onions, but once it was done, Hubby put it off to the side to cool while he made “biscuits.” Now, I say “biscuits” instead of biscuits because although it was Bisquick biscuit mix, we didn’t have a way of baking them. Instead they were more like biscuit pancakes. Hubby wasn’t sure how they were going to turn out so he didn’t want me to get my hopes up, but they were perfect! Slightly burnt in the middle where the flame hits the pan, just enough to give it that campfire flavor. We ripped them in half and dunked them into the perfect stew. The only problem was that there was a bit too much food, and no way to store any leftovers. I felt guilty about throwing it away because it was so good, and there isn’t really a good place to throw food anyway (because raccoons can always figure out where you put food) so I enjoyed my gluttony and pretty much couldn’t move for the rest of the night.  For dessert we had Whole Foods cookies from the cookie bar, drank our adult beverages, and then hiked to the top of the hill by our camp to watch the stars.

It was a perfect night.

(Except for one thing. My camera had a little accident. >:{ So these are the only photos I have from the trip. BUT it was still a fantastic trip, and my camera is fixed, so all’s well that ends well, right?)

The next day we hiked around and watched the boats at the boat ramp, got some sodas at the general store, and even headed to Longhorn Cavern State Park, which was pretty much next door, to check out the cavern.

Now, you might be thinking, “come on World Traveler…you have been to Carlsbad Caverns. How can ANY cave even top that? What’s the point of even going to other caves after you have seen Carlsbad?”

Well Fellow Adventurers, first of all, I find all caves interesting, but this one had the strangest back story you have ever heard! First, it wasn’t a cave formed by water dripping over eons creating beautiful “sculptures” but it was formed by an underwater river. It was also a hang out for Comanche Indians, smugglers, bandits, train robbers, and at one time it was a Speakeasy. Yes. In the middle of nowhere Burnet, Texas, there was a Speakeasy in a cave.

Longhorn Cavern Speakeasy

(Photo courtesy of http://bougiegrnk.blogspot.com/ where you can read all about his travels, too!)

The cave was an awesome surprise on this trip that we wouldn’t have had time to do if we had only gone camping for one night instead of two. We went back to Inks Lake State Park, watched the boats some more, and then headed back to camp for a nap, and then we watched a spectacular sunset on the hill overlooking Inks Lake.

This trip couldn’t have gone better, and we definitely plan on going back, maybe taking a couple of the dogs with us next time. I recommend this park if you were thinking about going!

Panoramic Sunset
Sunset Over Inks Lake

 

 

 

Bucket List #2

There have been many things I have accomplished in my relatively short adult life so far. I graduated with my bachelors degree in 3.5 years. I got my masters degree right after that. I have been to Europe. But the things that I have crossed off my bucket list are what I’m really proud of.

1. Swim with manatees
2. Hold a wild nurse shark
3. Drive to Alaska
4. Live in the rainforest (it was only for a month, but it was far from a vacation!)
5. See wild humpback whales (recently accomplished!)
6. Dive Monterey Bay (also recently accomplished, on the same day as the whales!)
7. Foster MULTIPLE litters of kittens and several dogs
8. Gone on a cruise in Hawaii
9. Ran a half marathon (accomplished March 23)
10. Go parasailing

I have also added a few things to my bucket list, and thought of a few more things that I have always wanted to do, but forgot to add to the last list:

15. See a wild whale shark
16. Witness a massive hammerhead migration (while diving below them)
17. Go to India (This had actually been on my list for a while, but I just forgot to write it down)
18. Bathe an Indian elephant in a river
19. See the whooping cranes
20. Work on coral reef restoration

My First Half Marathon

A couple weekends ago I completed my first half marathon! It’s been a long time coming, but I was finally able to complete this task. This is how it all started:

Last fall, a friend of mine asked if I wanted to join her in running her first half, which was scheduled in October. I didn’t care for the charity, and wasn’t remotely ready to run a half, but she got the idea planted in my head. So hubby and I signed up for the Shiner Beer Run, scheduled for December 16, 2012, and the charity was The Boot Campaign . I was super excited about it, and told everyone what we were going to do. Somewhat related, I had made my New Years Resolution for 2012 to run 10 miles without dying. Not without stopping, but in one running event. So I thought that running a half marathon was the best way to accomplish that.

The problem was the date. December was the busiest month ever. We had something going on every weekend, and three things planned for the weekend of the half. My mom-in-law graduated with her bachelor’s degree on Saturday (congrats!), my work Christmas party was Saturday night, and the half was early Sunday morning, and it was about 2 hours away.

The Christmas party ended up running really late, and the weather was not great (cold and drizzly-no bueno for running 13.1 miles) so we ended up not running the half.

I still planned on running 10 miles without dying, so hubby and I went to a local state park to run our own half marathon the next weekend. I developed a horrible bursitis at about mile 3, and pushed until mile 7 until I had to have hubby get the car because I couldn’t move. Hubby ended up getting a swollen tendon in his hip, that caused him pain for several weeks after our run. My goal was shattered. I wasn’t going to make my goal before the end of the year and I was heartbroken.

Then a couple months later the same friend who put the bug in my ear about the first half marathon asked if I wanted to join her in another half in March. It was the Baylor Bearathon, and the money for entrance fees went toward scholarships for Baylor students. We also had a free place to stay at my friend’s house, so there was really no reason NOT to do it!

Of course, after I signed up for it I saw “This is the toughest half marathon in Texas!” So that was something to look forward to…

Hubby went with me for moral support, and we headed up to our friend’s house the night before. It was an early, COLD morning, but the run went great! So I was getting tired by about mile 10, and I couldn’t believe how long it took me to run the last three miles, but I finished. Unfortunately, my Garmin running watch, which I started every time I started to run, and stopped every time I had to walk in order to record the 10 miles I was going to run to complete my goal, had a lap error at mile 9. It would flash and beep and say LAP ERROR every second, and was no longer recording distance. I was heartbroken yet again. Finally, the next day, my watch stopped saying lap error and instead said that I ran a whopping 16 miles. Ya, NOT ACCURATE. So I can’t even keep the record of my run from before the watch malfunctioned, because it’s not the true time and distance.

Guess I’ll just have to run another one.

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Bucket List

Not too long ago, a couple girls at my office, Zombie and Poltergeist Prevention, Inc. asked me what I was going to do for my birthday. Jokingly, girl #1 said “what are you doing for your birthday? Climbing Mount Kilamanjaro?” And girl #2 agreed with her that we are always adventuring, so there is no telling what our weekends have in store. And again today, I ran into an old friend from high school, and in casual conversation with her boss, whom I had just met, my friend explained to him that we are adventurous people. This is probably one of the nicest things someone has said about me. So it made me think about creating a bucket list.

So, without further ado, and in no particular order other than this is the order I thought of them, my bucket list:

1. Go to South Africa and Kenya for my 30th birthday

2. Climb Mt. Kilamanjaro for my 40th birthday (the girls at work had a good idea!)

3. Dive the Great Barrier Reef

4. Meet Jane Goodall

5. Swim with polar bears!

6. Swim with great whites! (Ok, ok. In a cage).

7. Visit all 50 states of the US

8. Visit every continent (I got this idea from my dad, the Intrepid Traveler, who has almost done this!)

9. Run a marathon

10. Hike the Pacific Crest trail

11. Dive every sea

12. See an octopus in the wild

13. See the aurora borealis

14. See the aurora australis

Now, by no means is this a finite list. I will continue to add to it, and I have already scratched something’s off my list, before I ever really wrote it down.

Like I have hiked the tallest peak in Texas. Twice.

I have been to Alaska and Hawaii, the two hardest states to hit when attempting to hit all 50.

I have been parasailing in the Florida Keys.

I can’t wait to start crossing a few things off my list, so I have room to add more to my list!

What are some things on your bucket list?

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There Will be Blood

Hubby and I had the great plan this weekend, to go for a long run in a nearby park, then head to Whole Foods and make ourselves sick by eating an entire box of ice cream bars. This is what we looked forward to all week.  But the plan changed after this happened:

I'm suddenly having a flash back to Grandma's driveway, asphalt, and a bar of soap....

 We planned ont he park being ubber full because of Easter, so we parked about a mile away from the park, and decided to run in, around, and back. We were going at a pretty good pace when Hubby asked me if I had remembered to grab something from the house before we headed out, and of course I had forgotten it. So as I closed my eyes in frustration at my goldfish brain, I tripped over an uneven part of the sidewalk.  You can see the scar from my childhood on my left knee. This is not the first time this has happened.  But as an adult I got up and planned on finishing the run. Hubby kept checking on me, making sure I wasn’t just being tough, and I wasn’t bleeding to death. When we got to the park, i had the bright idea to wash my knees off, and that’s when they started to feel a little bit on fire. Crazy on fire. I felt tough though – people would look at my knees as we ran by, and I just kept going. Even with the fall, our first mile was a 10:10!

But of course, now they hurt, and are swollen, and I’m much too old for this. For some reason, my ribs even hurt. Still can’t figure that one out.

Hubby says that since 1 in 3 runners develop an injury while running, he’s safe for now. After our run, we went to Whole Foods, but instead of getting sick on ice cream, we got a giant salad and some other deliciousness for lunch, and sat outside to eat. All the while, my knees look like this. I got a few funny looks, but I’m sure people thought I had just fallen in the parking lot or something, not fallen an hour earlier, and just hadn’t gotten around to doctoring them yet. Meh. How else am I going to test my immune system?

Be careful out there! And watch your step!

10K does not mean 10,000

I’M BAAAAAAAAAAAAACCCCCCCCCCCKKKKKKKKKKKK!!!!!!!!!!!!

As I’m sure you have noticed, I haven’t been posting in a while. That is because I have been in school for a week! Ok, not so much school, but a continuing education course, to learn all about wetlands. Totally work related (i.e. I didn’t pay for the class), interesting, and I got to be outside for half a day all week, during beautiful weather. Life is good.

And now that I’m back, I can entertain you with a couple of adventures I had while I was cut off from the interwebs.

Hubby and I have the same birthday. This makes it easy to remember, but at the same time, there is no longer a day just for me. For years I didn’t have my own birthday cake, because Hubby and I met at our job, so I went about 7 years of having to share a birthday cake with him until I got my current job, where not only does Hubby not work with me, but I’m the only February birthday in the office, so I get the only cake for a month! Ok, so it’s a little selfish, but that’s the only reason we celebrate birthdays anyway, right?

I guess I could get back on track…. Hubby and I have the same birthday, so this year for our birthday we decided to do the Houston Rodeo Run 10K. My New Years Resolution was to run 10 miles.  Originally the goal was to run 10 miles without dying, but now I’m actually seeing that I might be able to run 10 miles without stopping! And this is coming from the girl who just last year could hardly run 1 mile without stopping.  Now people look at me like I’m crazy when I say, “what? It’s only 6 miles…”

This was our first 10K, and I was really excited about it! I have done a couple 5Ks…This is how they went:

First 5K – West Texas. Homecoming Fun Run for the university. We started out going UP the steepest hill in town. Literally. Then run around a couple of neighborhoods, go back up a hill, and then back down the first hill. It was pretty brutal. The lady behind me kept coughing up phlegm and spitting it out. *hork!* The best part of it was that I knew one of the police officers who was running traffic for the race, so when he was done at his post, he got back into his car to drive to the finish line. (I was one of the last runners) so as he drove by, he got on the loud-speaker of his police car, encouraging me to keep going. That’s what I love about small towns. Right there.

Second 5K – Shriner’s Mud Run, Humble, Texas June 2011. June. In southeast Texas. It was awful. This was only the like 2nd Annual too, so they weren’t very organized. As soon as the starter pistol was fired, everyone took off, but in the very beginning, there was a giant mud pit and muddy hill to go through and over. Slippery muddy hill + beginning of the race = gridlock. Not only that, but did I mention it was June? In southeast Texas? Where the humidity was about 80% and it was 90 degrees by 9am? Even the water that we ran through was hot. And to top it all off the “official photographer” was only taking pictures of me when I was walking and looked like I was going to die. Why would I want to commemorate that moment in my life? When it was so hot outside that instead of drinking the ice water that was provided for us at the water station, I threw it down into my sports bra to cool off. Does that sound like something you would want a picture of? Cuz I sure didn’t. Of course all the pictures of Hubby made him look like he was in a running magazine. He was running in all of his pictures for one, which made me want to kill him, but he was also smiling. SMILING?!?! Who can smile while they are running in 130 degree weather?! He looked like he was having the time of his life. Not fair.

But this time was different. I have been training like crazy, running between 15 and 20 miles a week, and lifting weights to make my arms and legs stronger. Obviously you want strong legs for running, but you also need strong arms because you use them in your momentum, so if your arms get tired, you have to work the rest of your body harder to make up for it, making you tired faster.

This was my first race with a timing chip!

The Rodeo Run was great – it was the 25th Anniversary, so it was pretty well-organized, and we got there early, so we had some awesome parking near the finish line. I was prepared to run in shorts, but I was wearing sweats over them before the race because it was in the low 50s. I ended up running in my pants too just because I couldn’t imagine standing there waiting for the race to start, and freezing wearing shorts. 

Ready to Run!

So with my wicking shirt, running pants, amazing running shoes, and my handy-dandy GPS running watch, we hit the road for the race.

Now, I understand this is for charity (The Houston LIvestock Show and Rodeo Scholarship Fund) and I’m far from professional, but there were some stupid people we encountered while we were there! First of all, you are asked to line up in order of your running pace. so if you run a 4 minute mile, you should be in front of the people who run a 12 minute mile. We did what we were supposed to do, and got in the area of the 10 minute mile runners. Then I saw a sight in front of me: 4 women all together, wearing full makeup, with their hair done. One of them even had big heavy earrings in. And she was in front of US?!?! I don’t think so. So we walked up to the 9 minute mile area. Apparently we should have been at the like 7 minute mile marker, because for the first two miles we spend so much energy passing people who were already walking (and walking on the LEFT side), we were tired way early.

At mile 3 there was a bridge. Yuck. Bridge = Hill. And hills give me “The Fear” but I was happy to be able to pass people on the bridge as they slowed down. Then to our right, we saw the leaders of the race. Coming back up the bridge. At mile 5. We had to do it twice. Needless to say, I had my doubts.

By mile 4 I thought I was going to have to start walking. I was so disappointed, but my hips were hurting, and my tendons in my right calf were so tight I could barely flex my heel. But I pushed on. Hubby was my little puppy in front of me, looking back making sure I was still there, and encouraging me to continue. And it totally worked. By the time I got to mile 5, I knew I could make it forward to all the SWAG!

Crossing the finish line!

And sure enough, we finished in 1:05:13! I wish I had the energy to carry a camera on this run, because there were some people I wish I could have taken pictures, of, but I couldn’t even wear my heart rate monitor for the whole race! A word from the wise – that thing chafes after 5 miles! I really thought I was going to look down and there would be a giant blood stain on my shirt from the HR monitor.

When we got to the after party, SWAG was everywhere! They were giving away bagels, bananas, water, BEER, frozen yogurt, Go-Gurt, trail mix, Honey Milk, and all kinds of other stuff.

I was pretty tired by the time we got to the car, and even more tired by the time we got home, but it was my birthday so I did what I wanted. I TOOK A NAP.

Pizza, hot wings, and beer were the birthday dinner I had dreamed of for days, so we had that delivered to the house. Happy Birthday to us!

So far, so good

I would like to start passing on some health info that I have learned over the last couple years, because like most Americans, I thought I was eating right when in fact, I had no idea. I thought I knew how to work out, but I was wrong.

So first of all, I would like to give you a little bit of background, because I really don’t want to come off as a know-it-all. And I really just want to pass on good information.

From the “Beginning”

I think it was December 2010 when I was finally sick of myself. I had been steadily putting on weight through college, and although I stayed active, it kept creeping up on the scale.

Before December I avoided having my picture taken from the neck down, and even then I hated how I looked. So some time in December I decided enough was enough, and I needed to lose weight. I would do a comparison so you could see the difference, but even I don’t want to see that, so let’s move on.

I don’t remember the exact day, and I didn’t take “before” shots. Probably because I was worried that I wouldn’t have the discipline to actually make myself lose the weight and it would just be a constant reminder to me that I failed at something. Seriously.

Never be disappointed in your progress. It’s still progress.

Hubby has always been fit. Broad shouldered and strong, I always hated that he could eat the same things I was eating, and he still looked great. Stupid testosterone…..Anyway, so Hubby went to work, making me good food to eat (he’s the cook in our house), and we started running. Then we got a weight room in the house and he started helping me with weight training.

There have been several plateaus in my weight loss, but so far I have lost 34 pounds! I went from a snug size 12 to a loose-fitting size 8, and I think pretty soon I will be down to a size 6. It’s great to be able to see my progress every time I look in the mirror!

My first plateau hit when I had lost about 20 pounds. I still had a way to go, but nothing was changing. I was still working out and eating well, but I know I wasn’t running near as often as I should have been. It was hot! And I was BAD at running!

Except, I used to feel like the bottom picture, and I’m sure that’s what I looked like, too.

I attempted one of those diet pills that is supposed to give you energy and make you not want to eat. It was expensive and full of caffeine, so I couldn’t drink coffee or sodas because it made me feel sick. Not too bad, I needed to drink more water anyway, right? So I cut out additional caffeine. It did help curb my appetite, and I know I was eating WAY too much in one sitting, so it did really well making me feel full and making my portions smaller.  But I didn’t notice the weight loss that they said would happen. Ya, I lost a couple more pounds, but nothing that convinced me that it wasn’t just my work-out routine that made me lose it.  So I stopped taking that stuff.

I still try to drink a lot of water, and that’s tough for me, because to me when you say something tastes like water, that’s a bad thing.  My solution? Add Sweet-N-Low! It makes the water taste good, so you want to drink more of it! I also started adding lemon juice to my water, so now it’s like I’m drinking lemonade all day long. Yum!

My original goal weight was 150. I have only 2 pounds to go, and I will hit my goal! Yay me!

However, I plan on having legs I’m proud of, and that means about 10 more pounds to lose (or 10 pounds of fat lost, and 5 pounds of muscle gained). As long as I’m proud of the hard work I have done over the past 1+ year, it’s totally worth it.

Now, I’m training with Hubby to run a half marathon. I’m hoping to do one this fall. The bad part about training in Southeast Texas is, humidity will kill you. Seriously. It’s hard to run far distances (or at all) in the summer heat and humidity. Which is why I’m hoping to run a Half in the fall, when it’s nice and cool again.

This weekend we will be running a 10K, and I can actually say that I think it will be a piece of cake! I’m not saying I’ll WIN by any means, but I have the confidence to say that I can run the entire thing without stopping! 2 years ago I was proud when I ran 2 miles without stopping.  

So the lesson of today: there’s not just one thing you can do to lose weight. If you only try dieting, you will eventually fail. If you only try working out, you will fail. You have to be ready, mentally and physically, to crave foods you used to eat, and to be sore from a workout.

There is no magic bullet

But when you see your clothes are getting too big, you pick Subway of McDonald’s. And you pick running a mile over sitting on the couch.

Fo Show

 The best thing in the world though, is when you try on clothes at the store, and tell the chick in the fitting room who has to stand there all day to try to make sure people aren’t stealing stuff, “No, I’m not going to get these. I need a smaller size.”